Back in October of 2016, managing director Sarah Wilke left On the Boards to run Seattle International Film Festival. Then, box-office/PR person/incredible marimbist Erin Jorgensen left. Now, after 15 years of heading up Seattle's most reliably good performing arts haus, artistic director Lane Czaplinski is leaving OtB to run the performing arts program at Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University. He'll be gone in June.
From the Seattle Times:
The Wexner Center is about a $10 million organization, while On the Boards has a $1.7 million operating budget. 'It’s a much bigger staff, much bigger institution,' Czaplinski said. 'I want to work more on being a curator, being a producer, writing and making trouble in Ohio.'
Czaplinski announced his departure at last night's studio supper for the opening of Heather Kravas's Visions of Beauty. Director of external affairs, Betsey Brock, led a toast. Former president of the board at OtB, Tyler Engle, said everyone in attendance gave Czaplinski a standing ovation.
"There was nothing but admiration and praise," Engle said. "He's been absolutely terrific."
As for the recent departures, Czaplinski had this to say to the Times: "When you light a bunch of candles all at once, they tend to go out at the same time.”
This is good and sad and potentially interesting news!
Good for Czaplinski for landing a cool, new job. The Wex is lucky to have him.
The question is: Will the person (or persons?) who replace him bring that level of talent to Seattle audiences and/or foster that same level of talent within Seattle's artistic communities? The answer is unclear, but OtB has plenty of time to figure out what to do.
Czaplinski is finalizing next year's season before he leaves for good, so his ghost will linger onstage a while longer. Engle said Brock and Jessica Schroeder, the organization's director of finance and operations, will have everything covered while OtB undergoes a search.
Board president Ruth Lockwood told me they're not sure how long the search will take. They've formed a "succession task force," and will look locally, nationally, and internationally. They're also gathering input form longterm staff members. "Everything is on the table right now," Lockwood said.
"We’ve really prioritized equity in our strategic plan, so that’ll be a lens we use in our executive search," she added.
Though he can't speak to OtB's plans, Czaplinski said he's excited to see what happens next.